Halloween marked the mid-point of the NFL football season as teams entered their week 9 games. Following this docket of games, with 6 teams on bye, it has grown more apparent that even the dominant teams have some areas that need adjustments and those teams that seemed invisible are very beatable (Colts and Seahawks). Even those teams who have been rather mediocre (Jets, Dolphins and Browns) appear primed to do something other than fall victim to their mightier division foes. While teams that mire in the cellar are destined to have high draft picks (Jaguars, Raiders and Tampa Bay).
Peyton Manning has followed his Comeback Player of the Year honor with another prolific and near perfect start to the 2013 campaign. RGIII has shown the rust expected from injury, Luck has continued to impress and pull off 4th quarter miracles and even Alex Smith has shown signs of life and brought Kansas City back to relevance. There might be no greater story than those Kansas City Chiefs who have found their identity and strength behind Andy Reid. Up until this week’s air show against the Steelers, Tom Brady has struggled and looked less like the golden boy.
The second half of the football season poses many questions as teams jockey and vie for playoff positioning and the true contenders emerge. How will the return of Percy Harvin in Seattle and Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree in San Francisco affect the NFC West? Will the NFC East have a surprise team emerge and overtake the boring and mistake-minded Cowboys? How will the return of Andre Brown, Michael Vick (if Foles returns to the bench even after his 7 TD week 9 performance) and a healthier RGIII affect the pecking order in a division that might not have a team above .500.
Who wants to go to the playoffs from the NFC North? The Bengals appear to the cream of the crop but are too inconsistent, much like their QB Andy Dalton. The Super Bowl Champs have lost their luster without the leadership they lost in Reed and Lewis. The Browns have seen some life, but is Jason Campbell the answer…all Redskins fans are laughing to themselves. The Steelers seemed like they might fight back but losing to the Raiders and Patriots in back to back weeks makes them worthy of a high draft pick now.
My final question is who will win first, Jacksonville or Tampa Bay? The state of Florida is in a sad state of football affairs and Tampa looks closer to breaking through than the Jags based on last week’s near win that the Buccaneers choked on in Seattle. The Buffalo Bills remain on both the Jags and Bucs schedules, but I see the Bucs crossing that winning threshold before Jacksonville and curse of not taking a flier on Tim Tebow haunting them with brown bagged fans filling up the half-filled stadium.
The Blackmon suspension won’t aid their abysmal offensive attack either. All Cecil Shorts fantasy owners rejoice. At least the Jaguars don’t bully their own players…sorry Miami…too soon? Apologies to the sunshine state, at least they’ve got amazing orange juice and south beach.
Fantasy Tip of the Week
If you want to cash in on Nick Foles’ record day against the Raiders, then not so fast my friend. Next weekend it’s the Packers on the road and he’ll fare average at best. I imagine Vick as being back in the fold going forward. If Case Keenum is on the waiver wire still, nab him up. He’s a great matchup play.